Our new investigation into how well engineers serviced a faulty boiler found most of them failing to meet legal requirements and others making potentially dangerous mistakes.
We organised for 10 separate engineers – five from major companies and five from randomly chosen independents – to service a household boiler to see if their work was up to scratch. However, when our independent experts assessed each service, they found only two of the 10 engineers did the minimum legal checks and, shockingly, none followed the manufacturer’s servicing instructions properly.
Our investigation also found:
- Six of the engineers did not fix the boiler’s gas pressure which we had deliberately set too high.
- Two did not take the case off the boiler with a third engineer only taking the case off for just 13 seconds.
- Other potentially dangerous mistakes included not checking the boiler case for leaks or the flue properly, letting unburnt gas hiss out into the room and in two instances lying about safety checks.
- British Gas and Corgi HomePlan – two of the big brand companies we looked at – performed the best as their engineers did the legal checks, although they did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions properly.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
“These results are shocking with most engineers we put to the test failing to do what is legally required. Faulty boilers could have serious or even fatal consequences for consumers so more must be done to check up on and crack down on incompetent engineers.”
Which? has shared its findings with the Gas Safe Register, which is responsible for checking gas work is done safely.
Which? tips on boiler servicing:
- We recommend people make sure the engineer is Gas Safe registered.
- Ask in advance what will be included in the service and keep a note.
- A good boiler service should last at least 30 minutes and should include checking the flue (externally and internally); checking the operating pressure and/or heat input; checking safety devices; checking case seals form an effective seal; removing the boiler case to check all main components (burner, heat exchangers, main injector and spark/sensor probe; boiler fired safely to identify any working faults; boiler parts cleaned if necessary and a service report that shows everything the engineer has done.
- Ask for a written report and check it’s accurately filled out.
- If you have any concerns, contact the Gas Safe Register.
- Consider getting a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you if there is a leak.
Notes to Editors
1. For further information on our investigation visit which.co.uk/boilerservicing
2. Our investigation included 10 engineers – five from major companies and five from randomly chosen independents. Our experts assessed each service against gas safety regulations, the boiler manufacturer’s servicing instructions and any extra customer pledges made by the companies.
3. Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, enginers must check the flue, the supply of combustion air, the operating pressure and/or heat input and the safe working of the boiler.
4. The Gas Safe Register is appointed by the Health and Safety Executive to inspect gas work against the legal requirements.